A discount doyenne shares her treasure map.
While you’re clawing your way through the crowds this Friday, FOF Diana Tenes, author of 90% off Every Day, will be cozy at home in her living room, sipping peppermint tea and browsing online.
The discount-shopping expert saves thousands each year, but she opts out of frenzied “sale days” like black Friday.
“I appreciate the value you can get on that day,” she explains. “But I think it’s a lot of work–I don’t like to fight with people.”
Here she reveals, step-by-step, how she gets fab fashion deals without stepping into the fray. (Plus, check out the slideshow at the bottom of this post for great deals we found using her methods.)
1. Start with a specific item in mind. “I work as a stylist, so I’m usually looking for a very specific piece–lace boots or a leopard-pint sweater, for example. That’s much more effective than browsing sales for whatever catches your eye. Go to a store you like–Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Macy’s–and try stuff on. Make a list of the specific items you love. This is your seasonal shopping list–keep it in your bag.”
2. If you don’t have an item, start with a brand. “I love the look and style of Anthropologie, Betsey Johnson and Free People. I always carry a list of those brands so whether I’m on ebay or at a garage sale, I’m looking for certain labels.”
3. Speaking of eBay . . . start there. “I do a lot of my shopping online, and eBay is still my favorite resource. Once you know exactly what you want, type in every search variation you can think of. For example, if you love a leopard-print cardigan from Diane von Furstenberg, type that in. But don’t forget that not every seller is savvy. You can get the best deals by searching more anonymous terms such as ‘leopard sweater,’ or ‘animal-print cardigan.’ Also consider, ‘vintage leopard-print cardigan.’ This part takes time, but I love it.”
4. Set low limits. “I try to set a spending limit of $30-$40 for any one item on eBay. That may seem low, but it forces you to look harder and save more. I’ve found boots for $15 that cost $450 in a trendy boutique. I found a Lucky Brand sweater on eBay for $40 and it cost $150 in the store. Challenge yourself to save big.”
5. Bookmark these sites! “For well-priced alternatives that aren’t vintage or secondhand, I like to check Overstock.com, shopstyle.com, thefind.com, nextag.com, polyvore.com, etsy.com. Just like on eBay, use different descriptions or combination of words to search on these sites, such as “animal print, cheetah, leopard, faux fur spotted or jacket, coat or outerwear.”
6. Make second-hand your first love. “I always shop Goodwill, where I find the very best deals. Find the one closest to your home and visit shopgoodwill.com. Search craigslist for local flea markets and garage sales–another goldmine for truly cheap finds.
7. Shop vintage coats. “Certain big-ticket items–coats and bags, for example–are just better when you buy vintage. I type ‘vintage coats’ into eBay constantly–you never know what gems you’ll find.”
8. Sign up for Fashion Vault from eBay. There are a lot of discount shopping emails, but this is my favorite. It’s created by eBay and it’s all designer brands at 60-70 percent off. I mean, this stuff is really cheap.